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Your customers are the only thing keeping you in business. So, what are you doing to make sure they're satisfied with the service you provide? It's just not enough anymore to offer a great product with a low price -- customers are more than happy to go elsewhere if your customer service isn't up to their standards.

There's a load of theories on customer retention and how to attract new customers, most of which are backed up by solid research, but have you ever thought about taking a simpler approach to keeping your customers happy?

I was thinking the other day about the similarities between your customers and your friends. Think about it -- how lonely and dull would life be if you lost all of your friends because you couldn't put in enough time to see them? I know I wouldn't be happy. It's the same if you don't make sure your customers are happy -- they'll go somewhere else and you'll be unhappily out of business.

Brands need to stop thinking about their customers as customers, and start thinking about them as friends. Friends that, if treated well, will make sure that your business is a success -- and they'll go on to tell their friends and family about how amazing your business is, which will then lead to you making more customers, more friends.

How can you do this?

Think about the way you want your friends to feel after you've spent time with them. Do you want to leave them feeling they put in too much effort or that you've ignored them? Nope. You want them to feel you're easy to be around and that you listen to them.

You're Easy to Do Business With

There is more to the business-customer relationship than just delivering on customer expectations. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you. It is amazing how many businesses seem to try and make it harder rather than easier. You'd almost think you were doing your customers a favor by taking their money.

Take a step back and look at your processes. Is there anything you would find frustrating if you were a customer? Things such as having to call in to your contact center to find out when you should expect your delivery, having to trawl through emails to find booking confirmations, having to fill out a 20-question survey just to give feedback....

You can make all of these things easier for your customers. Use text messages to update your customers on their deliveries or to remind them of an appointment or booking number. And try minimizing your surveys to one question with a write-in option.

You Listen and You Take Action

What's the point of taking steps to improve your customer experience, if you don't know what your customers think about it? If that's the case, you run the risk of your "improvements" actually making things worse.

Ask them what they have to say -- and don't wait six weeks. Ask them while they still remember their experience. That way, you'll get a true representation of how you're doing, and anything you're not doing particularly well can be improved.

Your Employees Are on Board

Each and every one of your employees must share the same thinking as you on this. Otherwise, when they come around to speaking to your customers, you might find that they're not providing the service you'd wanted.

Engage your employees. There's loads of ways you can do this: Keep them in the loop when it comes to business decisions, ask them for feedback and praise them when they do a good job.

By implementing each of these steps, you can improve your customer experience, your customer satisfaction will receive a boost and your customers will sing your praises.